3 years ago

Sex differences in neural efficiency: Are they due to the stereotype threat effect?

The neural efficiency hypothesis postulates a more efficient use of brain resources in more intelligent people as compared to less intelligent ones. However, this relationship was found to be moderated by sex and task content. While the phenomenon of neural efficiency was previously supported for men when performing visuo-spatial tasks it occurred for women only when performing verbal tasks. One possible explanation for this finding could be provided by the well-studied phenomenon called stereotype threat. Stereotype threat arises when a negative stereotype of one’s own group is made salient and can result in behavior that confirms the stereotype. Overall, 32 boys and 31 girls of varying intellectual ability were tested with a mental rotation task, either under a stereotype exposure or a no-stereotype exposure condition while measuring their EEG. The behavioral results show that an activated negative stereotype not necessarily hampers the performance of girls. Physiologically, a confirmation of the neural efficiency phenomenon was only obtained for boys working under a no-stereotype exposure condition. This result pattern replicates previous findings without threat and thus suggests that sex differences in neural efficiency during visuo-spatial tasks may not be due to the stereotype threat effect.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S019188691300250X

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